Humility: The Beauty of Holiness # 7
Humility and Holiness
"Who say, Stand by thyself, do not come near to me; for I am holier than thou" (Isaiah 65:5)
We speak of the Holiness Movement in our times, and praise God for it. We hear a great deal about seekers after holiness and professors of holiness, holiness teaching, and holiness meetings. The blessed truths of holiness in Christ and holiness by faith are being emphasized as never before. The great test of whether the holiness we profess to seek or attain is truth and life, will be whether it produces increasing humility. In the creature, humility is the one thing necessary to allow God's holiness to dwell in him and shine through him. In Jesus, the Holy One of God who makes us holy, divine humility was the secret of His life, death, and exaltation. The one foolproof test of our holiness will be the humility we demonstrate before God and men. Humility is the bloom and beauty of holiness.
The distinguishing feature of counterfeit holiness is its lack of humility. Every seeker of holiness needs to be on his guard, so he doesn't allow pride to creep in against his knowledge, and so that what began in the Spirit attempts to be perfected in the flesh. Two men went up into the temple to pray. One was a Pharisee and the other a publican. There was no place or position as sacred as the temple. The fact that the Pharisee can enter there shows that pride can lift its head in the very temple of God and make His worship the scene of its self-exaltation. Since Christ exposed his pride, the Pharisee has put on the nature of the publican. Now the confessor of deep sinfulness and the professor of the highest holiness must be on the watch. When we desire most to have our heart become the temple of God, we will find two men coming up to pray. The publican will find that his danger is not from the Pharisee beside him, who despises him, but from the Pharisee within him who praises and honors himself. In God's temple, when we think we are in the holiest of all, in the presence of His holiness, let us beware of pride. "Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and satan came also among them" (Job 1:6).
"The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee that I am not as other men are: extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican" (Luke 18:11). It might be the very thanksgiving we offer to God, the very confession that God has done it all, that causes complacency. Yes, even when in the temple, when the words of repentance and trust in God's mercy are heard, the Pharisee may praise God with his mouth and inwardly be congratulating himself. Pride can disguise itself in the appearance of praise or repentance. Even though the words, "I am not as other men," are rejected and condemned, their essence is often found in our feelings and words towards our fellow worshipers and fellow man. Would you know if this is really true? Just listen to the way churches and Christians often speak of one another. How little of the meekness and gentleness of Jesus is seen. It is barely remembered that deep humility must be the theme of what the servants of Jesus say about themselves or each other. There are not many churches, conventions, committees, or even foreign missions that are not affected by the influence of pride. Leaders in these ventures exhibit touchiness and impatience when defending themselves. They use sharp judgment, unkind words, and do not consider others as better than themselves. Their holiness contains little of the meekness of Christ. In their spiritual history, men may have had times of great humblings and brokenness. This is a completely different thing than being clothed with humility, from having a humble spirit. It is different from having that lowliness of mind where a man considers himself the servant of others, and in doing this, displays the very mind of Christ.
"Stand by thyself, do not come near to me; for I am holier than thou" (Isaiah 65:5). What a poor copy of holiness! Jesus the Holy One is the humble One. For this reason, the holiest will forever be the humblest. There is none holy but God. We can only have as much holiness as we have of God. Only what we have of God will determine our real humility. Humility is, simply stated, the disappearance of self in the vision and understanding that God is all. The holiest will be the humblest. Unfortunately, even though the shamefully boasting Jew of Isaiah's day is often not found, even our worldly manners have taught us not to speak in this way, and the spirit of the boasting Jew is still often seen in the treatment of fellow saints or the children of the world. How often the attitude in which opinions are given, work is undertaken, and faults are exposed, are made to appear to be like the publican but the voice is that of the Pharisee. "God, I thank thee that I am not as other men are" (Luke 18:11). Is it even possible to find this type of humility, that men would still consider themselves "less than the least of all saints" (Ephesians 3:8), the servants of all? It is. "Charity suffers long and is benign; charity envies not; charity does nothing without due reason, is not puffed up, is not injurious, seeks not her own" (1 Corinthians 13:4-5). Where the spirit of love is embraced in the heart, where the divine nature comes to full maturity, where Christ the meek and lowly Lamb of God is truly formed within, there is given the power of a perfect love that forgets itself and finds its reward in blessing others. The one who loves, bears with them and honors them, however feeble may they be. Where this love enters, there God enters. Where God has entered in His power, and reveals Himself as ALL, there the creature becomes nothing. Where the creature becomes nothing before God, it cannot be anything but humble towards the fellow creature. The presence of God is no longer a thing that changes with circumstances, but the shelter where the soul lives forever. The creature's nothingness before God becomes the holy place where all its words and actions come from.
May God teach us that our thoughts, words, and feelings concerning our fellow man are His test of our humility towards Him. Our humility before Him is the only power that enables us to always be humble with our fellow man. Our humility must be the life of Christ, the Lamb of God, within us.
Let all teachers of holiness and all seekers after holiness take warning. There is no pride as dangerous, because it is so subtle and sneaky, as the pride of holiness. It is not that a man ever says, or even thinks, "Stand by thyself, do not come near to me; for I am holier than thou" (Isaiah 65:5). No, the mere thought would be treated with disgust. But unconsciously, there grows a hidden habit of the soul, it feels satisfied in its accomplishments, and it can't help but compare itself to the position of others. It can be recognized simply in the absence of that deep selflessness which can only be the evidence of the soul that has seen the glory of God. It reveals itself, not only in words or thoughts, but also in a tone, a way of speaking of others. Those who have the gift of spiritual discernment can't help but recognize the power of self. Even the world with its watchful eyes notices it, and points to it as proof that the profession of a heavenly life does not necessarily bear any heavenly fruit. Brothers and sisters, let us beware! Unless we make, in the pursuit of holiness, the increase of humility the focus of our study, we may find that we have been delighting in beautiful thoughts and feelings, and the motions of sanctification, while the only evidence of the presence of God - the disappearance of self - remains seriously lacking. Come, let us run to Jesus and hide ourselves in Him until we embrace and receive His humility. This alone is our holiness.
(continued with # 8 - Humility and Sin